Guild General Meeting report: 20 March

The Guild’s final General Meeting was held last night in the Main Room at the Guild Building in Aberystwyth. The meeting was opened by newly elected Guild chairperson Guy Drury, who expressed his excitement at beginning in his new role and succeeded in keeping proceedings moderately orderly, as well as seeing to it that the meeting finished in record time.

Huw Diprose from Board of Trustees gave a statement clarifying the decisions taken by the Board as the final court of appeal for election complaints. In spite of barracking from the floor, and complaints from dissatisfied members of the Guild, there was widespread approval of the statement. All interested parties stated afterwards that they hoped a line could now be drawn under the affair. It appears that election rules may yet be tightened and clarified before next year.

This was followed by the reports of the executive officers. Welsh Affairs Officer Tammy Hawkins stated that UMCA were busy organising their Rag week. She also described the launch of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol as “brilliant for Aberystwyth.”

Guild President Ben Meakin apologised for his distraction during the election period, but stated that he was glad to be back at work and laid out plans for continuing with creating the new guild coffee shop. Questions abounded from the floor, concerning both the Superteams debacle and apparent election irregularities. In one of the evening’s more memorable statements, Adam Robertson accused Meakin of acting like numerous dictators, and asked “will he be Pol Pot this week?” A bemused looking Meakin replied in the negative. There was much amusement from the floor.

Jessica Leigh, recently re-elected as Education Officer, joined Meakin in apologising for her absence from the Guild during the election period. She spoke of her attendance of multiple conferences since last GM, and dealt with questions on instigating NUS conference elections for delegates to the women’s conference. This appears to have been a bone of contention having previously had delegates appointed internally. The raising of this point by Matt Calfe caused considerable uproar when Leigh refused to answer the question until it was asked by a woman. Several women unsurprisingly volunteered themselves with considerable alacrity.

Alun Minifey kept his report characteristically short, gave his thanks to the assembly for their support during his tenure as Activities Officer. He will be spending the next month organising the creation of new part time officers to oversee sports clubs and university societies, as well as supervising the ever popular rugby sevens tournament at the start of May.

After beginning on a lame duck joke, Student Support officer Burmeister explained his recent activities recruiting new members of staff for student support and plans for the creation of landlords database to help students to find “affordably warm housing”. There were no questions, and much applause.

The first motion was presented by Kieran Ford, proposing the President and the Sustainability and Ethics officer be mandated to propose a socially responsible investment policy for the university, who currently hold shares in companies deemed unethical.

Siobhan Cannon proposed the second motion to conduct elections to NUS and NUS Wales section conferences for women, black, LGBT, disabled, mature and part-time, postgraduate and international students. Despite a lengthy debate on the issue of self-definition in some of these categories, the motion was passed by a clear majority.

The next motion, presented by Matt Calfe, was the only failure of the evening. Calfe, dressed as a pirate, failed to secure support for the banning of any party political member from outside Aberystwyth being involved in student election campaigning. There was heated debate on this issue, with suggestions that it would be impossible to police and that it amounted to an unfair proscription of members of a political party.

Two motions were proposed by Steffan Storch, one to clarify the non-partisan role of student media during elections and another to increase broadcast time for Bay Radio within the Guild. Both were passed without objection.

Laura Dickens proposed the evening’s final motion, offering Ubuntu cola behind the Union bar. It was clarified that Coca-cola would not be replaced, and on its acceptance by the assembly, Dickens commented that it was “one small step for ubuntu, one giant leap for fairtrade!”